Friday, April 22, 2011

Lessons Learned

Lea took this photo of my embellishments table setup at the License to Create Workshop.

I learned quite a few things during my first teaching experience that I'd do a bit differently next time. And I realized that there are some things I'm going to keep on doing too. Here's what I learned so far on this adventure...

- Expense and Shipping. When I created my first workshops, I was just thinking about what would be fun for students to make and for me to teach. In the future when I create a project, I have to think more about the expense and supplies. I shipped four large, heavy boxes halfway across the country and then back. Not a cheap move. That means I either need to charge a kit fee if I'm bringing most of the stuff OR I need to be more thoughtful about making the projects with non-specialized items in the first place so that students can bring the supplies.

- The Vendor Table. Vendor marketplaces are great for exposure, but I'll probably limit having a vendor table to maybe just Arfest. The vendor table means more shipping charges. And an upside/downside is that I don't really get to shop the market. Upside is that I don't spend money, but downside is that I don't really go around looking at what everyone else is up to.

- Speaking of vendor tables though, I did ok with sales on vendor marketplace night, but I really needed to have some more mid-range items in the $25-$50 range.

- Trades. I have a whole post coming up about the Artfest trades which were spectacular this year. BUT, I'll probably have to mass produce my trades next year for events where I teach. I saw that a lot of the teachers took that route. I love the handmade trades, but it was seriously a tight squeeze to fit them into the schedule and the suitcase this time. In making this art thing a business, I would probably have been better off focusing on making vendor table items. (I have to admit that not having handmade trades makes me sad, but I need to learn that I'll have to make trade offs to make this business work.)

- Be CONFIDENT! As someone who is coming from art as a long time hobby to art as a business, I tend to "undersell" my artistic abilities. (Have you heard the words "Oh, it's just this thing that I do" coming out of your mouth? If so, you're underselling too!) I don't want to be big headed about it, but I need to teach what I know without fear. (Thank you, Diana and Inez!!!)

- Find time to rest and play. Artfest is a pretty exhausting experience as a student and as a teacher. I'll try to find a few minutes to really rest my mind and to enjoy the experience in the future.

- Absorb the moment. I would call my first art workshop teaching experience a success. What I wanted more than anything was for my students to take my project and teaching and to make the project their own. And they did! I don't think every event will be quite as busy as Artfest was for me, but I want to be mindful to absorb the moments as they happen and to try to reflect on the experience day by day instead of running from event to event and storing it all up to think about at the end.

And finally...
- BE BRAVE! Teesha and Tracy mentioned being brave several times throughout the Artfest event. I can't even tell you how much this resonates with me. I wanted to teach, so I set aside my fears, worked hard, and reached out for it. I still have a head swirling with fears, but I'm going to keep pushing them out of the way and reaching for the next brave thing. I hope you'll do the same!

P.S. If you have any thoughts/experience to share, I'd love to hear!!


  1. Great lessons learned, Shelly! I'm fascinated to follow your transition from hobbyist to business woman with your art. I USED to be an artist, but have struggled for many years now to even have art in my life as a regular hobby. And your art is so whimsical...I live a little vicariously through you because of it. I have a question on your post: what are "Trades"?

  2. I love hearing your lessons learned. I totally get Be Confident and Be Brave. I think life requires constant bravery. You think you're done having to be brave and face fears in one area "After I do this..." and then there's something else you need to be brave in. I think it's a constant willingness to be open and brave in all areas of life. Lvoe hearing about your artfest adventures.

  3. Hi Shelly,
    Thank you so much for this. You are truly an amazing artist and very brave too. I hear you loud and clear on the confidence front.

    I agree with the mid ranged products at vendor night. People brought money to spend and were buying things $20-$60 willy-nilly. Again,the shipping is the tricky part.

    Next year will be better. You'll know what to expect. You have learned so many valuable lessons which will help you to breath easier, rest more and play more.

    I wish I could hang out and have a cup of coffee with you. You are so wonderful for sharing all you have learned with us. I am printing this out and putting it in my journal so I can remember your wise words. I have my application sitting by me now (eeeks!)

    Thanks again Shelly!

  4. So glad to read this post. I'm just starting on my art journey. Not sure where it'll take me. But these lessons you shared have helped me. thanks.

  5. great posts Shelly!!! i will definitely be sending people your way for teaching info! you've been so brave and strong, jumping in with both feet. such an inspiration to all! i have a feeling you're going to succeed beyond your wildest dreams!